Business Leaders' Forum

Food leaders attack the Apprenticeship Levy

By Noli Dinkovski contact

- Last updated on GMT

IFST boss Jon Poole warned ditching the Food Technology A-Level will have 'unintended consequences'
IFST boss Jon Poole warned ditching the Food Technology A-Level will have 'unintended consequences'

Related tags: Food and drink

Government plans to impose an employers' Apprenticeship Levy and scrap a key A-Level qualification have come under fire from food and drink industry leaders.

Justine Fosh, chief executive of the National Skills Academy (NSA) for Food & Drink, criticised the levy as a “blunt tool​, while speaking at last month's Business Leaders' Forum, host sponsored by DWF, in conjunction with RSA and ALcontrol Laboratories.

Fosh said the levy, which will come into effect in April 2017 at a rate of 0.5% of an employer's pay bill, “doesn't really take into consideration the ebb and flow of a business and the fact that companies don't operate to a single way of doing things”.

3M new apprenticeships by 2020

The government is hoping to raise £3bn from the levy, which will only affect employers with pay bills over £3M. It is committed to creating 3M new apprenticeships by 2020.

“Apprenticeship figures in our industry have gone backwards in the past year. So, when we talk about bridging the skills gap, there's a need to do more,” ​said Fosh. “On a more positive note, the industry has responded by creating a number of high-quality food and drink specific apprenticeships in recent months in food technology, in the supply chain, and in engineering all the areas that we continue to have shortages in.”

Talented young people

Encouraging talented young people to consider a career in the food sector particularly into skilled roles such as food science and technology continued to be a big challenge, said Jon Poole, chief executive at the Institute of Food Science & Technology.

Poole claimed the decision to pull the current Food Technology A-Level would likely have “many unintended consequences”​ for the food industry.

“Apart from the negative impact this will undoubtedly have in terms of attracting young people into food careers, it will also reduce further the general awareness consumers have about their food and how it is manufactured.”

Food Manufacture’s Big Video Debate on apprenticeships at Foodex

The Food Manufacture Group is staging a Big Video Debate on apprenticeships at the Foodex trade event on Tuesday April 19, between 11.30am to 12.40pm.

Taking part in the panel discussion – Apprenticeships: plugging the skills gap – will be a range of industry experts. Confirmed speakers include: Jon Poole, ceo, Institute of Food Science & Technology and Janette Graham, group technical learning and development manager at 2 Sisters Food Group.

For more information email Mike Stones​.

Meanwhile, Foodex 2016 – the premier trade event for the food and drink processing, packaging, ingredients and logistics industries – will take place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, between April 18 – 20.

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